Why I’m not in love with the new FriendFeed beta

As we reported August 25, social life streaming platform FriendFeed launched a new beta version of the site, presumably as a test platform prior to full time release. If you’re a FriendFeed user and haven’t tried it yet, you can use the beta version by visiting beta.friendfeed.com

The beta does offer welcomed extras to the FriendFeed experience, such as user grouping for easy access to your favorite FriendFeed users and image hosting. Sharing full FriendFeed feeds is now as easy as clicking on a users account so you see what they are reading, not only what they are sharing.

I’ve tried using it, but I keep ending back at the original FriendFeed. I just can’t love the new FriendFeed beta.

Take the new features aside, and the difference may be a matter of taste around aesthetics and layout. I don’t like the sidebar in the new FriendFeed because it’s not centered on my main visual scope, not helped by a 22″ monitor and a screen resolution to match, so FriendFeed is a wide screen experience for me. I want to easily switch between my Friend’s content, my content and on occasion the everyone feed, and tabs on the original FriendFeed allow me to do that. On the beta version, my feed is buried in the clutter of the sidebar, and I have to think about where the link is every time I go to use it, where as with a tab it’s always front and center and easy to use.

The sidebar itself isn’t visually pleasing, taking up the full length of the page with nothing but gray, where it could be better offered only for the length of the links it provides. It may take FriendFeed towards a more traditional layout, and yet why I use FriendFeed the site today instead of a third party tool is due to the clean, easy to read and follow aesthetic of the site; functional without being pretty perhaps, but it works for me. The introduction of gray in the sidebar and entry point feels slightly cluttered after the minimalism of old.

There’s also the question of customization. My FriendFeed tabs don’t work in the new version because FriendFeed has done away with tabs, although that isn’t necessarily the fault of FriendFeed. And yet we only get a half taste of customization in the new beta, a sidebar that offers a taste of suit yourself, but doesn’t fully embrace it. No doubt that new Greasemonkey scripts will emerge, but FriendFeed should be embracing the concept of FriendFeed as a homepage more, instead of changing things just as the ecosystem around the original page was delivering what FriendFeed wasn’t.

What do you think? What am I missing in the new FriendFeed, feature set aside, which could be easily added to the original FriendFeed. Leave a comment here or on FriendFeed with your thoughts.

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